Clouds painted the upper part of the window in front of Carly, who stood staring out at the driveway that had been empty all week. When would Daddy come home? He’d been gone a long time, but he’d promised he’d be home before church day. That was coming soon, she was sure, but she couldn’t remember which day was today.
Rain streaked down the other side of the glass and pattered against the roof. Did that mean God was as sad as she was right now? It sure looked like He was crying with her, but maybe He was just watering the ground so the flowers would come up real pretty when it was springtime again. How long would that be? Probably a lot longer than Daddy would be gone, but Carly couldn’t be sure since she couldn’t tell time yet.
“Do you want a snack, Carly?”
She shook her head but didn’t look back at Mommy. Instead, she pressed her palms and nose up against the glass, leaning up on her tiptoes to see even more of the outside world.
All of it was wet.
The soft thump-thump of Mommy’s feet on the carpet came closer, but Carly sniffed hard and kept looking at the driveway. Why wasn’t Daddy’s blue car there yet?
A hand came to rest gently on her shoulder, and she tipped away from the window to plop back onto her heels. She wiggled her toes and looked down to see them swish through the long, brown strands of the carpet. Normally, she loved the tickly feeling against her bare feet, but today all she felt was sad.
Maybe Daddy decided he didn’t want to come home. Did he not love her anymore? Tears bubbled up until they pushed past her lashes that Daddy said made the best butterfly kisses.
Mommy’s voice was soft and seemed to be understanding, so Carly looked up and over at her.
“Daddy will still come home today, just like he said.”
“B-but…” Carly gulped, but it was hard because something was stuck in her throat. “He said before church day, and I d-don’t kn-o-ow when that is!” As sobs rattled through her chest, she hurled herself against Mommy’s chest, flinging her arms over Mommy’s shoulders and around her neck.
Mommy held her close and shushed in her ear. “Church day is Sunday, and that’s tomorrow. So that means Daddy will be home from his business trip sometime today. Even if the flight gets delayed, I’ll let you stay up until he gets home. Would you like that?”
Carly nodded against her mom’s curly, dark hair, so much like her own. She played with a curl that bounced along her mom’s back as she stood up with Carly in her arms and walked away from the window.
“Let’s get some food in your belly and then play with some of your toys.”
That got Carly’s attention, and she sat up in her mom’s arms and looked into her eyes. “But I want to see Daddy come home.”
“Well, we can bring a few toys into the living room and play by the window.”
Carly thought Mommy was trying to trick her, but it did sound like a good idea.
“Staying busy will help the time pass faster, and it will scare those rainy day blues away.”
“How do you know?”
Mommy set Carly on the bench at the kitchen table. A Minnie Mouse plate holding a sandwich cut in triangles—with no yucky crust—like she liked and carrot sticks and a large dollop of peanut butter waited for her.
“Because when I wash the dishes, I don’t think about how long I have to wait to see Daddy again; I think about scrubbing dishes, but I also pray for Daddy and for you. When I sweep, I think about the little and big feet that will patter across the clean floor once I’m done… and I pray for the owners of those feet.”
Carly giggled. Mommy had a funny way of talking sometimes.
Mommy sat down next to her and pulled her plate across the table from her normal spot until it stopped right in front of her. “What do you say? Should we make sure to pray for Daddy while we eat? And maybe again while we play?”
The giggles stopped, and Carly felt a blanket of serious fall over her. Maybe Daddy was in trouble. Was that why Mommy wanted her to pray extra for him? She folded her hands in her lap and bit her bottom lip. She was afraid she would start crying again if she said anything. Besides, she wasn’t sure what to say.
It was almost like Mommy sensed what was going on inside of Carly. All of a sudden, Mommy’s hand came over her littler ones, and when Carly glanced up at her, her eyes were closed. “Dear Jesus, we thank You for this snack we’re about to eat and ask that you help it give us energy and good health.”
Carly closed her eyes tight and listened hard as the words kept coming from beside her.
“Will you please help Daddy to have a safe flight home today? He’ll be up in that big plane, so please also help the pilot and his co-pilot to make the best decisions today as they’re bringing the plane home.”
Carly unwound her hands from each other and grabbed on to Mommy’s. It must have been a bit too hard, because she got a little squeeze back.
“After Daddy reaches the airport, will You please help him to drive his car in a safe manner that will bring him home to us? We love him very much.”
“We sure do!”
Another squeeze came to Carly’s hand, so she slapped a hand over her mouth. She probably shouldn’t have said anything during Mommy’s prayer, but her worry just sort of popped out.
“So we want him to come home to us so he can teach us more about You and share in the love you give to us every day. Thank You very much for giving Daddy such a good job, because it makes him feel good that he can provide for us by getting us delicious food like what we’re about to eat. Thank You for listening to our prayer for Daddy, and we leave our prayer in Your hands, because You can do anything. Amen.”
When Carly opened her eyes, Mommy smiled at her, and they both chose a carrot stick to start with. They shared a giggle before they swooped the carrots into their peanut butter and crunched down on them.
“That was a wonderful prayer, my girls.”
Carly dropped her carrot—it might have fallen to the floor—and whirled her head around toward the doorway to the living room.
There stood Daddy, tall and important in his rumpled suit, but his tie was missing. When she looked down at his hands, she saw the tail of the stripey tie she picked out for his birthday last month hanging out from the pocket of his jacket. His briefcase was in one hand and the black bag he always took on trips was in the other one. But she quickly looked back at his face. His eyes shimmered with water, but his smile spread wider than the peanut butter now spread across Carly’s plate.
“Daddy!” It only took a few moments for Carly to scramble from the bench and leap up for Daddy to catch her. She heard the clunkety-clunks of his baggage tumbling to the ground, but all she cared about was that her rainy day blues were gone, because her daddy was home. And it wasn’t even her bedtime yet.
Mommy must have been right. Staying busy and praying hard really worked. It made the time just disappear. Maybe now Daddy could play with them after their snack. Because he made the best deep truck sounds, all those rumbly things that made Carly giggle until she fell over and grabbed her belly because it hurt from all the giggle bubbles bouncing around and smashing into each other. Hopefully he’d tuck her in tonight, but she still wanted Mommy’s kiss and another good prayer.
Daddy leaned over to kiss Mommy and then sat on Carly’s spot on the bench and helped Carly sit on his leg next to Mommy. “What are we eating, pumpkin?”
“Butter sticks!” Carly pulled a silly face.
Daddy and Mommy both laughed, and Carly grabbed one of the sandwich triangles and bit into it. Grape jelly never tasted so good as it did when she was sitting on Daddy’s lap listening to Mommy ask him about his trip. Carly leaned back against her daddy’s chest and closed her eyes, chewing slower than normal so she could sit here longer. Those rainy day blues could stay away forever, because now she knew how to beat them. She grinned up at Mommy, and the twinkle in Mommy’s eyes said she was thinking the same thing. Next time Daddy had to go away for work, the waiting wouldn’t be so hard as this time. They had a game plan to scare those rainy day blues away.
Copyright 2020, Andrea Renee Cox
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